Do you ever look back at your life and thank God for it? I don’t just mean the good times in life, but also the awful times you thought would never end. We should never question the rhyme and reason of God’s plan for us. I know it is hard not to at times. But we just need to know that God does have a plan for us. No matter what we are going through right at this moment, even if it is something that is tearing us up inside, there is a reason for it and one day it will all make sense. Just not now. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways” (Isaiah 55: 9).
I recently experienced one of those moments when the rhyme and reason to God’s plan came full circle. I was filled with such joy at the beauty of it that I could not hold back the tears. I would like to share my story with you. I hope my story encourages you to keep going in the face of adversity. There is light at the end of whatever you are going through and it will be greater than anything you could ever have imagined. Trust God’s plan!
It all began in Boston. Our first two children were born there. My husband lost his job and got another one, but it was in New York City. Unfortunately, we could not sell our home so my husband was commuting, which was difficult for our family. A good friend told me to bury a statue of Saint Joseph in our backyard to help sell the house. I was a lapsed Catholic at the time, but I figured why not give it a shot. We went to a Bodega to get one. But the man at the Bodega warned, “You don’t bury Saints!” He told us to instead put up a picture of Saint Joseph over the top of our front door and make a promise to him. We followed his instructions and promised Saint Joseph we would raise our children to be Christians. A week later we sold the house! That’s the truth!
We moved to New York and went on to have three more children there. What about our promise to Saint Joseph? It fell by the wayside. We broke our promise. I can almost imagine that stoic Latino gentleman from the Boston Bodega warning, “You don’t break promises to Saints!” I bet he would have hit me over the head if he had known what we did. We broke our promise big time! We actually got introduced to Buddhism in New York and raised our children more Buddhist than Christian. Along the way, all kinds of terrible things were happening to us financially and my husband lost his second and then his third job. It was a total nightmare! It was then that we decided to move to Florida. We just got up and moved.
It must have been divine intervention that brought us to Florida. I don’t know how else to explain it. Don’t get me wrong, it has not all been a bed of roses or should I say palm trees for us here. Financially, we continue to struggle. But Florida opened up unexpected avenues for our children to thrive. It is here where our children discovered their passion for music. Our children ended up attending schools with wonderful band directors who encouraged them to pursue their musical dreams. You have to realize that my husband and I are not musical at all. We have less than zero musical talent. So where does our children’s passion and talent for music come from? It comes from God. It is utterly amazing that 4 out of our 5 children plan to pursue careers in music.
Also while living in Florida I returned to my Catholic faith. My husband along with 4 out of our 5 children have already come home to the Catholic faith with me. But our promise to Saint Joseph back in Boston was that all 5 of our children would be raised as Christians. We still had one more to go!
This brings me to our oldest son, Felix Jr., the last one in our family to come home to the Catholic faith. In his final semester as an undergrad student, he experienced a dramatic conversion to Christianity. (That is a story for another day.) Our prayers were answered. Felix Jr. moved from an outright staunch Agnostic to a Christian almost overnight. It was a miracle! His conversion story actually reminds me so much of the conversion of Saul. “Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained sight” (Acts 9). Our son had been that child who would get seriously irritated if you even brought up a conversation about religion. He wanted to be left alone on all matters of religion. But God had bigger plans for him than he or even I had ever even imagined.
Prior to his conversion, Felix Jr. had auditioned for one of the most prestigious music schools in the country for Graduate School, the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC). He got accepted! And where is this music school located? It is in Boston! God was sending him right back to the place of his birth; back to the place where my husband and I made our promise to Saint Joseph all those years ago. Prior to heading off to grad school Felix Jr. looked up Catholic Churches near NEC and found that the closest one is Saint Cecilia’s parish. Saint Cecilia is the patroness of music! Praise be to God!
In August of 2017, we moved our son into NEC. While in Boston we attended mass with him at Saint Cecilia’s Church. During the priest’s homily, tears of joy welled up in my eyes as the realization of God’s plan and greatness hit me. I thought, wow! Our oldest son, our last child to come home to the faith of my ancestors is going to be confirmed in the very city where we made our promise to Saint Joseph. Not only that, but he is going to be confirmed in the Catholic faith in a Church named after the patroness of music! Could God have written a better script? All glory and honor to Him forever!
In reading this story, I hope it provides a glimmer of hope. No matter what we are going through God does have a plan for all of us and we just need to get out of His way and let Him work His wonders in our lives. It will all be clear one day and we just need to have faith it that.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saint Cecilia, pray for us.